July 31, 2017
I recently asked a bunch of my employees to describe themselves in two words. And, I also asked them to do it quickly…the first two words that come to mind tend to be the ones that frame who you are. (try it…write it down). Curious and passionate where my two words and while I believe there are many others that add to my profile, these two do a good job describing who I am and clearly support my interests in education, art, leadership, broad learning and building things.
For the last twelve years I have been involved in building creative education businesses and at the root of these businesses is the notion that creative education is functional education.There is a great article in today’s NY Times by Kristin Wong that talks deeply about the need for “broad learning”. The article is broken into two parts and one of these parts debates the choice of “specialized learning” as an undergraduate track. With the cost of higher education, more of the decision making process than ever before is focused on the return on investment to offset the egregious cost of higher education and the massive student debt that often comes with it.
The other part focuses intently on the need to build broad skills and nuanced thinking to become well rounded beyond your basic core competencies. According to the article, this often suffers because young adults are so immersed in a specialized track that they don’t get to expand their horizons and develop new competencies to help them grow. Whether we are young or old, we must challenge ourselves to try new things…. take new classes…do creative projects…expand your horizons…these things will help you evolve.
Lifelong Creative Learning is at the essence of what I think we need as humans and I am doing all I can to live, share it and celebrate it.
#MondayThoughts #OneRiverSchool #BroadLearning
July 24, 2017
Why do they call it dog days of summer? The term has its roots in Greek and Roman astrology which connected summer with “heat, drought, and sudden thunderstorms”. Guess what, they also referred to “lethargy, fever, bad luck and mad dogs!”
Because I am an old dog, I will take all the droughts, heat and thunderstorms knowing that I have a window before the ice, sleet and cold turn me into a mad dog. I also love to utilize summer to reset my goals and to think about a proverbial “7th inning stretch” for the calendar year.
Here’s the next level thought. I try to use my summer to think about the life / work balance thing we all struggle with and more specifically, “how do I find time to do things that inspire me emotionally”. For me, this means hobbies and reminding myself that reading great books, finding new great music and uncovering new visual artists is what excites me. It also means doing…playing my guitar, taking a new class and focusing on that creative side of my brain…the side that made life more fun when we were kids!!! I want more of that!!!
Ok, so we will never refer to it as the “dog days of summer” anymore. From this point forward it shall be known as the “personal reset window”. Assignment: take a week to make some goals for the balance of the year and add 1-2 things that are different and creative and maybe childlike…you will love me for it.
#MondayThoughts #OneRiverSchool #DogDaysofSummer
June 27, 2017
We just finished our student exhibitions at all of our schools and I found myself walking around with a constant smile on my face. On one level, I am really proud to see the artwork all over our walls that simply demonstrates the time and effort our students and staff are putting in. We really have become a first rate art school.
But, beyond the artwork, I can’t get over the pride on our student’s faces as they look at their work and the hundreds of others around them. One River has grown and has become a real community. And, at our shows, our community is even larger with friends and family enjoying the creative energy in our space.
Art making is like playing music…you do it because it makes you feel good and allows you to express yourself in a different way. Like music, it also needs to be shared with others and our student exhibitions are a concert in their own right with a real audience providing the feedback and the love.
May 23, 2017
For those of you who have not engaged in the discussion of STEM and STEAM education, let me set this up before I make a few points. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach…STEAM adds ART.
Now that I am of the ripe old age of 56, I can reflect on my observations that reflect on over five decades (ugh…I really sound old now!) Having said that, I have never remembered a time when people raved about arts education…in my lifetime it has always been seemingly underfunded and underdeveloped. Having said that, it appears that we are really making progress in these other areas. But, do people really want STEAM?
When I Google “STEAM” Education”, there are over 75 million results to that Google search query. When I search for “STEM Education” there are only 16 million. How can you explain the fact that so many more people are wondering about how do we integrate ARTS into the mix and promote the connectivity between abstract thinking and practical thinking?
Frankly, abstract thinking is practical thinking. The more we train our brain to “create” the more we will train our brain to resolve problems, develop strategy AND create cool things. Art making is fun. It also builds critical thinking skills. And, in today’s times, critical thinking has never been in greater need to deal with the complexity of modern life.
What do you think???
#MondayThoughts #OneRiverSchool #STEAM #TransformingArtEducation
May 8, 2017
April 24, 2017
10-Year old Chase Balay has a malignant brain tumor. This beautiful 4th grade boy from my town Cresskill, NJ, an accomplished young artist with a special creative spirit, is battling something that is hard to put into words and frankly represents the nightmare we all dread as our worst possible fear. This is what it is …I can’t sugar coat it, but I want to tell you about one of the most emotional and important efforts I have ever seen using art as a tool for healing and creating context.
The Merritt School in Cresskill, NJ approached One River in January to tell us about Chase. They simply said that Chase was dying and they had an idea to celebrate his life through art. We jumped in instantaneously and this past Friday was one of, if not the most moving day I have had in over ten years running creative education businesses.
165 3rd, 4th and 5th graders…each created an individual artwork in honor of Chase. They used his imagery…monsters and robots, to honor Chase and in some ways to preserve his lasting spirit. These objects were presented at One River School in Englewood this past Friday night and our community came out in the hundreds to support Chase, rally around this unbelievably emotional moment, raise money and celebrate life.
Chase’s Dad Erik is extraordinary and I am certain he and Chase’s Mom Julie have more passion and spirit than just about anyone in the world. His brother Ryder is a bundle of energy who is so lucky to have such a supportive system around him. Chase’s grandparents spoke and presented a slideshow of Chase’s art and it was riveting. The staff at Merritt School and the parents and community in Cresskill should be admired. Chase’s friends and peers…this may be the most impressive group of young kids I have ever met.
There is a fundraising component…we auctioned artwork from the event and there is an online tool to support Chase at:
Hug your kids. Think about how precious life is. Celebrate the special beauty that art provides for humanity…it is a language that allows us to connect in times of good and bad.
Matt Ross Founder
April 4, 2017
November 7, 2016
So many things have been said about the election that I will try to avoid the obvious here. For whatever it means, I am not in the game of governing and I respect people who try to make a difference. I may not always agree with them, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be to do the job and either way I am willing to accept whatever happens and support our country.
Life is short and happiness is in your hands. We have the best country in the world by far… warts and all. I can give you so many examples but I am sure I don’t have to convince you about that point. So, lets take a chill pill, go out and vote and then lets come together and work on building a better future for our children.
I often share the story of the British artist Bob and Roberta Smith who last year ran for Prime Minister of Great Britain on the “Art Party.” Absurd as it sounds, he struck a chord with me. Making great people … makes great countries.
To that point, at One River, we are focused on helping people think differently. Our world is better when people are challenging themselves to think differently and that is what art is about. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old…just create.
Check out Bob and Roberta’s latest “creative parade” here.
#MondayThoughts #VoteforHumanity #BobandRobertaSmith
October 31, 2016
I am a health nut. I read as much as I can about diet, exercise and the latest updates with a goal of constantly upgrading my routine. While there is no one recipe that works for everyone, I can assure you that if you demonstrate discipline in a few areas you will improve your health and your brain power…it is that simple.
Exercise: Here’s what the American Diabetes Association says: “Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week or a total of 150 minutes per week. Spread your activity out over at least 3 days during the week and try not to go more than 2 days in a row without exercising.
Nutrition: Here’s what Matt Ross says: Limit your carbs to 150G per day, Eat zero trans fats, Cut out processed food, eat more dark, leafy greens, drink more water, reduce your alcohol to no more than 3 drinks per week.
Your Mind: Get the monkey off your back…a friend recently told me about Daniel Smith’s book “Monkey Mind”. In today’s world, I think anxiety is the number one challenge to heath and well-being. Manage it.
Your Soul: Do something quiet that requires your complete attention. Take an art class! Or, go mediate. Or, go somewhere into nature and sit still.
Get your head making better choices and you will have better health with a more clear head, It’s that simple.
#MondayThoughts #YourHealthandYourBrain #MonkeyMind
September 19, 2016